Life on the Farm: Caleb Miller
Submitted by Brandi Yancy, UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County
Caleb Miller, 9, has been working with Nigerian Dwarf Dairy goats since he was three years old. He’s been a 4-H member since he was five. His older sister has Lamancha dairy goats, but while visiting a friend’s farm he fell in love with Orchid, a Nigerian Dwarf doeling—a baby female goat. When she was old enough to leave, Orchid came home with Caleb. She still lives on the farm and has had 14 babies—the last two times having four!
Caleb says, “My favorite part of raising goats is taking care of the babies. They are a lot of work, but so cute and bouncy. I always make sure to hold them and pet them a lot so they are friendly and love people. Sometimes we have to bottle feed a baby and that makes them really attached to people. They need at least four bottles a day after the first two days and need milk for at least 8 weeks.”
Orchid and eight other Nigerian does live on the farm along with three bucks, or male goats. They live with the bigger Lamancha goats, who are unique looking due to their small ears. It’s fun to watch them play together.
Orchid and the other goats go to goat shows across the state of Florida. They are judged on their conformation, udder and condition. Caleb competes in showmanship competitions as well, and shows in the open classes with adults. “The goats have to be shaved, clean, hooves clipped, and in good body condition to do well,” says Caleb, “I have to make sure I’m dressed according to showmanship rules, too. I’m judged on how I move with the goat, how well prepared the goat is, and how much I know about dairy goats.”
Because Nigerian Dwarfs are dairy goats, they can make lots of extra milk. After they have babies, they get milked twice a day. Milking can be done by hand or machine. Caleb helps milk, and the goats eat grain while they are being milked. Lots of extra milk goes to other goats and sheep who need bottles, as well as other species like puppies, kittens, calves, and even more exotic animals like camels! Lots of people like goat milk too, and cheese, yogurt, and ice cream can be made with goat milk. Caleb’s favorite is goat milk fudge.
Besides his Nigerian Dwarf goats Caleb has other jobs on the farm. He mows the grass, fills water containers, collects eggs from the chickens, helps with maintenance and even cooks breakfast sometimes!
To learn how to get involved with your local 4-H program, go to florida4h.org.